Week 1: Getting Started
Day 4 – Lights on a Hill: Matthew 5:13-16
It’s a hundred miles from the Montana/Wyoming line to my hometown. I’ve made the drive more times than I can count, usually with various family members and usually with eight or ten hours of driving behind us. When I was a little girl, you could easily drive ten miles without passing another vehicle on those roads at night. It isn’t that way so much any more, but the highways are still pretty dark. We all know that once we cross into Montana, it’s only a matter of a few miles before we start seeing what we’ve been longing to see. Light.
At first, it’s just a faint glow high on the horizon, and you’re tempted to doubt. After all, you’re still eighty miles out. You’ve driven so far and there’s more than an hour to go, how could you be seeing home already? But it’s true.
The undulating landscape causes the light to disappear and then reappear from time to time. Each time it reappears it’s just a little brighter than before. It becomes a mental game: now you see it, now you don’t. It keeps you hopeful, alert. You want to see more than just the glow. Up and down, up and down. Then you begin the last climb. The glow is so bright now you feel like you could reach out and touch it. You climb and climb… and in some cases you downshift and you downshift! Until at last you break over the ridge and the city is spread out below and across from you. Forty-three square miles of lights. And you sigh with relief; the darkness is behind you.
This world is full of people looking for light. Not literal, physical light – spiritual light. God has called us to be that light. In Matthew 5:14-15, He compares our lives to a city very much like my hometown. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”
Billings is not “set on hill” for the most part, although our airport sits 500 ft above the valley and certainly adds a great number of lights to the collection. The city’s location, however, in a part of the country with wide-open spaces and few trees or structures, causes much the same effect as a city set on a hill. It is hard to hide it. As Christians, our light is supposed to do the same. It is supposed to be hard to hide. It is supposed to draw the lost to the hope of safety that it offers.
That light is Jesus Christ dwelling in us, so how do we make it shine? The next verse makes that very plain. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify you Father which is in heaven.” I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Salvation is not of works. We could never accumulate enough good works to pay for the terrible sin debt that we owed. Only the work of Jesus Christ on Calvary can provide salvation. But once we are saved, God’s desire is that we go out and do good! Ephesians 2:8-10 makes this very plain, “For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
God never intended for us to get saved and then sit back and do nothing. He intended for us to go out and to walk in good works so that others would see those works and glorify our Father in Heaven.
So, what if we don’t do it? Well, in this same passage in Matthew, Jesus also compares us to salt. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” (Matthew 5:13)
How does all this apply to the fatherless? It’s rather simple actually. When someone walks into a dark room with a candle, where is everyone’s eye drawn? To the light. When we take the time to walk into a dark situation, and to let the light of Christ shine through us, those around us see it. I cannot even venture a guess of how many opportunities to share the gospel of Christ were opened to us through the orphanage in Russia . I can think of twenty specific people with whom we were able to share Christ because of ministry to two widows in Moscow– just two widows. And I know that I heard others who were ministering to other widows tell many times of the doors the Lord opened to them through that ministry. I cannot even begin to tell you the wide-spreading results of taking the time to invest in a refugee, a stranger, who said, “I think it is important for me to know, Who is Jesus Christ?” When we take the light of the gospel and personal investment into the lives of others, that light shines to those around them as well.
You may remember that as we went through the Old Testament we discussed what happens when we allow others to take on our responsibility to care for the fatherless, the widows, the strangers, etc. (Check out this post.) We specifically looked at the result of turning it over to government, since that is the primary trend of the day. Do you remember the result? It is much the same as the situation with the Israelites in Hosea 14. (See yesterday’s blog!) The eye of the one in need goes to the hand of the one who provides. If we allow government to provide through government agencies, those whom they assist will come to depend upon the government. If we allow God to provide through us, we can direct those in need to Him.
Has our salt run out of savor? Look around you. Where are the needy of your community going for help? To God through the church? Or to government through its agencies? We wonder at times why God is so easily being removed from our society. Could it be, at least in part, due to the fact that we have failed to turn the neediest hearts of our people to Him, and therefore have reached the point at which few continue to see His relevance in their lives?
The principle, once again, is the same here as the Asshur Principle. The purpose of our ministry among the children and all of these people groups, is to see God glorified and souls turned to Him.
Is our light effective or have we put our candle under a bushel? Are we savorless salt or a city set on a hill?
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Also Check out Rachel Miller’s Book: The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption